“I understand,” he said simply. “You cannot talk about it. I’ll not ask any questions.”
“My brother is weak in her hands,” she managed to say in extenuation.
“After all, it isn’t a pleasant subject. If you don’t mind we’ll let it drop—that is, between you and me, Miss Drake! I hope the war won’t break off our—”
“Don’t suggest it, please! I’d rather you wouldn’t. We are friends, after all. I thought it was playing at war—and I can’t tell you how shocked I am.”
“Poor old Bonaparte!” was all he said in reply. She stooped and laid her hand on the fast-chilling coat of the dog. There were tears in her eyes as she arose and turned away, moving toward her horse. Shaw deliberately lifted the dead animal into his arms and strode off toward his own land. She followed after a moment of indecision, leading the horse. Across the line he went and up the side of the knoll to his right. At the foot of a great tree he tenderly deposited his burden. Then he turned to find her almost beside him.
“You won’t mind my coming over here, will you?” she asked softly. He reached out and clasped her hand, thoughtlessly, with his blood-covered fingers. It was not until long afterward that she discovered his blood upon the hand from which she had drawn her riding glove.
“You are always welcome” he said. “I am going to bury him here this afternoon. No, please don’t come. I’ll bring the men down to help me. I suppose they think I’m a coward and a bounder over at your place. Do you remember the challenge you gave me yesterday? You dared me to come over the line as far into Bazelhurst land as you had come into mine. Well, I dared last night.”
“You dared? You came?”
“Yes, and I went farther than you have gone, because I thought it was play, comedy, fun. I even sat upon your gallery, just outside the billiard-room—and smoked two cigarettes. You’ll find the stubs on the porch railing if her ladyship’s servants are not too exemplary.” She was looking at him in wide-eyed unbelief. “I was there when you came out on the lawn with the Frenchman.”
“Did you hear what he was—what we were saying?” she asked, nervously and going pale.
“No. I was not eavesdropping. Besides, you returned to the house very abruptly, if you remember.”
“Yes, I remember,” she said, a sigh of relief accompanying the warm glow that came to her cheek. “But were you not afraid of being discovered? How imprudent of you!”
“It was a bit risky, but I rather enjoyed it. The count spoke to me as I left the place. It was dark and he mistook me for one of your party. I couldn’t wait to see if you returned to renew the tete-a-tete—”
“I did not return,” she said. It was his turn to be relieved.
IN WHICH THE TRUTH TRESPASSES